VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s coroners service says 147 people fatally overdosed in August compared with 86 deaths during the same month last year.
However, the latest number of monthly illicit-drug deaths are lower than the 176 now confirmed for July and the record of 181 fatalities recorded a month earlier.
Data from the coroners service show overdose deaths began increasing in B.C. just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, when 113 people died, up from 73 in February.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe has said border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have stopped the flow of typical drugs that come into the province, creating business opportunities for those manufacturing even more toxic substances.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has urged people to use drugs only in the presence of someone equipped with the overdose-reversing medication naloxone.
Last week, she issued an order that is expected to soon allow registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to write prescriptions for safer drugs that are an alternative to those bought on the street.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.
The Canadian Press